Forgiving the 50 and the 500. A very short parable. About forgiveness and love. Two verses. But it’s embedded in an actual event. It must be very important. This parable ended with a question from Jesus to a Pharisee named Simon. (Not Simon Peter, the disciple.) Jesus told Simon, “You have judged correctly”. Jesus told the woman who was the “target” in the event, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Yes, it seems we can learn much from the parable of Forgiving the 50 and the 500.
Jesus has something to say/ask
Simon, I have something to tell you
OK – this was directed at Simon. As I’ve already mentioned, Simon was a pharisee. Jesus had something to tell him. Of course, this wasn’t only for Simon. It applies to all the “pharisees” at that time and since then. It even includes us “pharisees” living today as well.
As such, let’s take a deeper look at the Pharisees – the “real” ones – the Jewish sect during Jesus’ time on earth. We’ll see something different from what many might expect.
Conclusion – The Parable of Forgiving the 50 and the 500
So we have a parable within an event. And we have Matthew’s word with the inclusion of sin, but only within a cultural context. We can learn of the cultural context by looking it up. But we can really only understand the parable, and therefore the true meaning of the event, with the help of the Holy Spirit.
Let’s say a non-believer just read everything I wrote. And that’s assuming they (you?) were interested enough to actually get this far. It could still sound like just an interesting story. Or it could sound like just so much nothing. Or maybe it’s a good learning experience – something about a good way to live, but no more.
But what it’s really about is someone who paid all our debts to other people and to God. And it’s not the monetary debts. It’s the sin kind of debts. There’s no way we could ever repay them ourselves. It’s just too much. So it’s about God forgiving those debts. Those sins.
Let’s go further. If they aren’t forgiven, we don’t go to jail to be tortured until we die. No, we go to Hell to be tortured forever. If our debts – our sins – are forgiven, then we have eternal life with the One who forgave them. It shouldn’t be a hard choice. But it is.
There’s one more step in the process. One from the middle that I left out. Why those debts – sins – are forgiven. When an earthly debt is forgiven, it’s because the one to whom the money was owed tells the one who owes that they don’t have to repay the debt. In this case, the debt is never paid.
That’s not how God works. Justice requires that a debt be paid. The other way a person can owe money in this life, and not have to pay it back, is if someone else pays the debt for them. The one to whom the money is owed is restored in a sense. They receive what they rightfully had coming to them. The one who owed the money no longer has the debt. And the one who paid off the debt obviously cares a lot about the one who debt was paid. Otherwise they wouldn’t have done it.
That’s more in line with how God works. For what we’re talking about here, it’s us who owe God. He created us. Whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, He gave us every good thing we have. And we turn around and sin against each other – against Him. All of us. Even the ones who think we’re the righteous Pharisees. And so Jesus comes to earth. Pays the price. (Please read No one would ever agree to this would they? Maybe One? for a “fictional/reality-based look at that). But it’s only paid for us if we want it to be paid. If we think we don’t need His offer, we can reject it. Most people do reject it. It’s sad. Jesus loves us all so much that He was tortured and died for us. And yet most of us won’t even acknowledge what He did.
This parable – this event – they tell us what happens, depending on whether we accept the payment from Jesus or not. But we won’t understand that unless we also accept that Jesus really is the Son of God – and that He did pay our debt for us.
We all owe something. Whether it’s 50, 500, or some number way, way bigger – we all owe something. And none of us can afford to pay. Do we want to try anyway – with a 100% chance of failure? Or are we willing to admit we messed up and let Jesus pay for us?
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